Craigslist Find: 1948 Plymouth – Handles Like a Marshmallow


I’m still trolling Craigslist every day looking for something to replace my stupid Ford Focus. It’s depressing. Anything I’m willing to pay for is terminally boring. How many Desert Sand Mica (beige) Toyota Corolla LEs with an automatic ARE there for sale at any one time, anyway? Here in Indianapolis, it’s got to be 20. Where are the manual transmissions? Or the sunroofs? Or the funky hatchback bodies? I want something, anything, that will help me feel like I’m not doing what I’m doing: buying a boring transportation appliance. Which this 1948 Plymouth most certainly was in its day. Time has a way of making formerly common things interesting.


The seller is asking $9,000 (see ad here), about what I want to pay for a modern transportation appliance. This Plymouth was probably a sturdy car in its day, but I’m sure it won’t approach the reliability of a modern Corolla. And reliability is the game I want to play above all. And even a $9,000 used Corolla rides a ton nicer than one of these. I know; I’ve ridden in one.


25 years ago, a work buddy of mine had a 1946 Plymouth with the same body, except it was – wait for it – beige. Of course. He drove it to work one chilly day and took a bunch of us to lunch. As you can imagine, I was excited for the opportunity. I sat right there, in that seat next to the door. I had never experienced such rear legroom before! That front seat had to be three feet away. And the seat was very cushy, like a sofa.


But then my buddy fired ‘er up and got ‘er going. The engine worked mighty hard for what little acceleration it got. Something inside the engine spun furiously, trying to push the car forward, but the car could only slowly build momentum to catch up with it. We turned out of the parking lot and the car wallowed hard, pitching me against my back-seat neighbor. And then the car bucked over a railroad track that my car at the time would barely notice. “Sorry – this thing handles like a marshmallow,” my buddy called out.


No regrets, no recriminations – that ride was one of my most favorite old-car experiences. Makes me want to call this owner and ask for a ride around the block. It might make me feel better about the boring Corollas that make up most of what’s available in my price range. But daggone it, my Focus has leather and a sunroof. And I put a new stereo in it with an iPod link. And it’s not bad to drive – good acceleration, snappy handling. Those things more than make up for it being otherwise so boring. I wonder what would have made for a less-boring basic car in this Plymouth’s prime used-car days.